Expanding Your Value as a Patient Key Opinion Leader
As a Patient Leader, you've answered the call to help other patients and caregivers in your community. Day in and day out, you're entrenched in your community's conversation. By sharing your own story and interacting with others, you've become a trusted source. So others come to you for help, information, and advice.
Because you're so ingrained in your community, you have a constant pulse on what's going on, including:
- The daily struggles
- What people are facing
- What new patients are asking
- What veteran patients are asking
You know your story to a T. But you also know so much about the collective community's story.
Sharing your community's story sets you apart. It expands your value to that of a key opinion leader (KOL).
Being a KOL within the patient and caregiving community online can be a powerful way to make a positive impact on the lives of others. In this article, we'll explore:
- What it means to be a KOL
- Why you're already set up to be a KOL
- The benefits of the role
- Best practices to follow
What is a key opinion leader (KOL)?
A KOL is a person who:
- Is recognized as an expert in their field
- Has opinions that are respected and valued by others
- Is viewed as a trusted source of information, support, and advocacy
You may have noticed that we refer to our members as Patient Leaders at the Social Health Network (SHN). A Patient Leader uses their story or a story of a loved one to share information and support. They advocate for themselves and others. Essentially, we look at the KOLs of the patient and caregiving community as Patient Leaders.
Why are you set up to be a patient key opinion leader?
Becoming a KOL online in the patient and caregiving community takes time, effort, and dedication. But the good news is that your work is already setting you up for success!
As a Patient Leader, you have a unique ability to shape conversations and influence people's decisions. You are seen as a thought leader and a voice of authority within your community. And your opinions and insights are highly sought after.
- You are already connected and talking to countless patients and caregivers
- You are looked at as a trusted source in the community
- You have a constant pulse on the community
- You live and breathe this every day
People in the healthcare industry are looking to Patient Leaders like you to talk about their own stories and what they see in their communities. And when I think of the patient community, who better to call upon than SHN members?
What are the benefits of being a KOL?
To be looked at as a KOL for your condition can bring many benefits to your work! Here are just a few:
- Influence: As a KOL, you can influence the decisions and actions of others. You can use your platform to raise awareness of important issues, advocate for change, and drive meaningful conversations.
- Recognition: Being recognized as a KOL within your community can bring increased visibility, prestige, and credibility.
- Opportunities: As a KOL, you may be presented with opportunities to collaborate with other experts, speak at events, and participate in other professional development activities. (Pro tip: Check out our opportunities on the SHN platform!)
- Personal fulfillment: For many people, being a KOL within their community is a deeply fulfilling and rewarding experience. It allows them to make a meaningful impact on the lives of others and contribute to positive change in the world. Let your "why" be a driver for good.
What are some best practices for KOLs?
So how can you use this knowledge and expertise that you're picking up daily to impact people's lives everywhere? Let's talk about a few best practices to draw upon.
- Share unbiased news and information with your community: Companies want to partner with leaders who can share all sides of the story and remain neutral. Share trusted news sources and factual information.
- Tell your story, but include other viewpoints as well: When you talk about your condition, talk about it in terms of "we" instead of just "I." Be a voice for those who don't have a voice. Speak on behalf of the community you represent.
- Advise on your community's needs by communicating not just the "what" but the "why" and "how": When you're sharing what your community needs, help back up your ask with why it's important and how it could make an impact. If you can demonstrate you're good at this, there will be countless opportunities lining up at your door.
- Diversify the companies and organizations you work with: First and foremost, stay true to your goals and values. But working with multiple organizations can help build your network and expertise and provide various opportunities to get involved.
- Never stop learning about your condition: Stay current on new treatments, trends, and best practices. Learning is always ongoing, especially in the world of health.
Lastly, always appreciate the value you bring as a Patient Leader. No one else has the viewpoints, experience, and knowledge you have. So tap into this valuable currency and never let anyone take advantage of you because of it.
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